Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
What would cause an eighteen-year-old old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because the rest of them think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person but didn’t know any of the language? A passion to make a difference. Katie Davis left over Christmas break her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved, so broken by the people and the children of Uganda that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Her story is like Mother Teresa’s in that she has given up everything—at such a young age—to care for the less fortunate of this world. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, has gone on to adopt 14 children during her time in Uganda, and she completely trusts God for daily provision for her and her family, which includes children with special needs.
I love this book, I’ve always felt that my calling is to remain in Bedford in some form or another. Being a foster carer was something I never exactly planned on doing but it’s funny how God makes things happen. Katie went out to Uganda to visit the area she felt called to, her parents hoped that going for a short visit would shock her into not pursuing a longer stay. Little did they know… I think at the beginning my friends thought we’d gone off the deep end when Our Sidekick came to stay with us and now nearly four years later he’s still with us. Being a foster carer/Mum to Our Sidekick and Jaxon along with supporting Chris in his endeavours is my current calling, I have a want to travel to Australia and Japan and sometimes I feel it stronger than ever but right now my calling is to be here. I do however love hearing about what other people are up to and how they tell people about Jesus. Dealing with two children is stressful enough for me – Katie has adopted over 10 kids!
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
In this lively and compelling account of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of bestselling memoirs such as Julie and Julia, The Year of Living Biblically, and Eat, Pray, Love. With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.
Rubin didn’t have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her—and what didn’t.
The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory’s peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew’s magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.
Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia.
Kept by Elle Field
“Did she really just say that? I am fifteen again, except the reality is I am experiencing full parental horror, aged twenty-five. I want to die.”
Life hasn’t quite worked out how Arielle Lockley imagined it would. Becoming the next Coco Chanel was always her childhood dream, but she’s spent the past four years living a dizzying whirl of glitzy parties, luxurious holidays and daily shopping sprees – all paid for by boyfriend Piers – and not doing anything to make her Coco dreams happen.
When the recession hits, it’s not just the economy that takes a tumble and Arielle finds herself living back with her parents, on bad terms with Piers, and having a CV that’s as welcome as a pair of knock-off Jimmy Choos. And maybe it’s the location, but she’s also finding unwelcome thoughts of her childhood sweetheart are popping into her head…
What’s a girl to do? Can Arielle figure out what it is she now wants to do with her life and move on, or will she be doomed to spend the rest of her life dwelling over her worst mistakes, stuck listening to her parents’ embarrassing dinner table talk each night?
Somewhere along the line, Elle and I got chatting – probably on Twitter! It turned out we have similar interests and also share the same birthday in fact. When she published her first book two years ago, I was “first in the queue” to cheer her on and start reading. If you like chick lit like the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, I’m sure you’ll like this one and even better Lost (Book 2) came out yesterday – yes it’s in the TBR pile!
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
At one time Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that there would ever be a story to tell. For the first fifty years of her life nothing at all out of the ordinary had ever happened to her. She was an old-maid watchmaker living contentedly with her spinster sister and their elderly father in the tiny Dutch house over their shop. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. However, with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, a story did ensue.
Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis. For their help, all but Corrie found death in a concentration camp. The Hiding Place is their story.
A few years ago we had a girls group that met weekly – I guess like a Connect Group but it was just girlies. We were talking and sharing about women who inspire us and although I knew Corrie’s story I’d never actually read her book. My friend lent me her copy of The Hiding Place and I pretty much read it between meetings I think. Corrie and her family spent part of the war hiding Dutch Jews in a hidden space in their house (in a way they were on the opposite side to Anne Frank who was hidden in a house in Amsterdam). In the end Corrie and her family were caught by the Nazis and were sent to prison. Although some of her family were released, Corrie and her sister Betsie went from the Scheveningen prison in Holland to a concentration camp also in Holland then they were moved to Ravenbruck concentration camp. The book then follows her experiences while in the camp and how different situations played in their favour to be able to share the gospel with other women in the camp.
If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher
A heartwarming memoir of love and faith from Hannah Brencher, founder of The World Needs More Love Letters, who has dedicated her life to showing total strangers that they are not alone in the world.
Fresh out of college, Hannah Brencher moved to New York, expecting her life to look like a scene from Sex and the City. Instead, she found a city full of people who knew where they were going and what they were doing and didn’t have time for a girl still trying to figure it all out. Lonely and depressed, she noticed a woman who looked like she felt the same way on the subway. Hannah did something strange–she wrote the woman a letter. She folded it, scribbled If you find this letter, it’s for you on the front and left it behind.
When she realized that it made her feel better, she started writing and leaving love notes all over the city–in doctor’s offices, in coat pockets, in library books, in bathroom stalls. Feeling crushed within a culture that only felt like connecting on a screen, she poured her heart out to complete strangers. She found solace in the idea that her words might brighten someone’s day.
Hannah’s project took on a life of its own when she made an offer on her blog: She would handwrite a note and mail it to anyone who wanted one. Overnight, her inbox exploded with requests from people all over the world. Nearly 400 handwritten letters later, she started the website, The World Needs More Love Letters, which quickly grew.
There is something about receiving a handwritten note that is so powerful in today’s digital era. If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world,and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started.
I love snail mail. I love going to the front door and finding the different coloured envelopes with handwritten addresses on the front of them. I have pen pals all over the world (although sometimes I’m a bit rubbish about keeping up with letters so if I owe you one please let me know!!). Somehow I heard about Hannah’s project then saw the video of her talking at TED. When I heard she was writing a book I kept my ear to the ground to hear about how her project came about and how it helped her when it came to dealing with her depression. It’s now one of my favourites.